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The choice is ours: Big Oil or Chavez?
Houston Chronicle ^ | July 29, 2007 | Scott Tinker

Posted on 07/29/2007 8:11:31 AM PDT by NRG1973

The choice is ours: Big Oil or Chavez?

As we wait for emerging energy forms to develop, we should create policies that support oil companies

In the coming century, the world will transition from cars that run on liquid fuels to cars that run on something else, perhaps electricity or hydrogen. Until then, we have a choice. Either support the "Big Oil" companies that are SEC and IRS regulated, traded on the major stock exchanges, contribute to our economy and national security, and whose employees are our neighbors, or butt into energy myths and stand by idly (gleefully?) while Hugo Chavez ejects "Big Oil" from Venezuela.

The American public is severely misinformed about energy. A few energy myths:

• American energy independence is possible. • "Big Oil" companies control gasoline prices. • "Big Oil" companies make obscene profits. • We are running out of fossil energy (oil, natural gas and coal). • There are renewable (clean) alternatives to oil, natural gas and coal available today. • People will pay more for clean energy. • The oil industry is a major polluter today. • Energy efficiency and conservation can solve the problem.

Here are a few energy realities.

• Political spin has little basis in energy reality; talk about energy independence is misleading and naive. America is energy interdependent for the foreseeable future and policies should be made accordingly. • The cost to transition the transportation infrastructure to nonliquid energies is in the trillions of dollars and will take many decades, even if we implemented a full-scale commitment today. • Big Oil companies combined control less than 10 percent of the world's conventional oil reserves. So "Big Oil" cannot control gasoline prices. • U.S. political leaders beat up on Big Oil with unfounded rhetoric about obscene profits. Big Oil companies, even in the past few "obscene profit years" have typically made less than 10 percent profit annually, which is not very good relative to many other industries. A healthy industry does not exhibit the kind of layoffs and mergers that continue to characterize the U.S. petroleum industry. • Oil, natural gas and coal provide 86 percent of global energy. Consumers must be prepared to pay for cleaner forms of fossil energy, such as electricity from gasified coal plants that are ready to sequester carbon dioxide emissions underground, and unconventional oil and gas reserves whose exploitation demands more expensive technology. • Because of its massive pursuit of coal-based power, China must be a major part of any global strategies to reduce carbon emissions.

Energy can do many things, but it cannot be renewed. Sources of heat and motion that seem sustainable on a human time scale, such as wind, solar and geothermal, supply only around 1 percent of the world's energy.

Research on solar energy makes eminent sense and should be embraced; it will be needed later this century. Wind, geothermal, tidal and hydro make sense as regional supplements. Nuclear energy is a viable, scalable, clean alternative for power generation. Biofuels require more research; currently the cost in soil, water and energy to convert a carbohydrate into a hydrocarbon is simply too great.

Since the dawn of energy as a commodity, people have made choices based largely on price. There is no sign that will change, regardless of how we respond to clean energy polls; when the price of gasoline, heating fuel or electricity rise, the consumer yelps.

Combustion of any fuel produces emissions; everyone who drives a car, turns on a light or heats and cools a home is likely combusting fuel. Emissions standards, oil and gas operations and coal mining practices have and should continue to improve.

We can and must become more efficient in how we use and save energy; it is a significant part of the solution. But global demand will continue to grow; there are simply too many people consuming and modernizing and we can't "save" our way around the problem.

While emerging energy forms take shape, we still need to run the planes, trains and automobiles of the modern era. Until we define and can produce at scale the next major transportation fuel, we owe it to ourselves to develop national energy policy with a mind toward supporting the major oil companies that provide the energy required for a healthy economy, which is in turn required for a healthy environment. To do otherwise would put control of oil, and global security, in the hands of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and a few countries with major reserves of conventional oil.

The choice is ours.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bigoil; energy; energyindependence; geopolitics; hugochavez; myths; oil
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To: garyhope

“What, I’m going to shovel manure in my backyard, make my own shoes, ride a horse to work?”

Don’t forget, wipe with one square of TP — it’s core theology to the Greenies.

21 posted on 07/29/2007 10:46:38 AM PDT by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: NRG1973
Thanks for the article. It’s sensible and seems well informed.

Big oil isn’t the problem. The problem is big stupid government. Government should get out of the way and allow the oil companies to exploit our oil resources in ANWR and offshore. The environmental and political risk of US oil is far less than that of foreign oil. We need to streamline and ease the process of allowing new refineries in the United States.

We do not need complete energy independence. Just a little more US oil and refining would greatly improve our national security. Prices are set at the margin and small changes in supply may have a significant impact on price. That would piss off Venezuela, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. De-funding communists and Jihadists is a good thing.

22 posted on 07/29/2007 10:46:41 AM PDT by ChessExpert (Reagan dismantled the Russian communist empire despite the Democrats and the MSM)
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To: cpdiii

“..hydrogen embrittlement..”

And let’s not forget hydrogen internal blistering. It’s easy to say that we will use H2 in the future but, as usual, our politicians posture and look important and come up with all kinds of technical BS, but most of them do not know what they’re talking about. Every known material looks like swiss cheese to a H2 molecule. I, personally would not like to be around when two H2-fuel cars collide.

23 posted on 07/29/2007 11:04:44 AM PDT by 353FMG (America, first, last and always.)
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